Finches and OBX

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September 8, 2002: One day last week I took my digital camera and folding chair and planted myself close to our nyger thistle feeders. I had to sit there still as a log for a long time, waiting for the birds to return. I do make sacrifices to get pictures and information for our Lair Log! I sat so still for so long that the roving ants decided that I was probably deceased and that the mess of me should be cleaned up, dragged away. Just as the birds returned and I was ready to get the perfect shot, the ants enthusiastically started on their appointed task. Determined to get my picture, I endured the pain. See if you think the following photos were worth the effort. 

First, though, let me tell you that I was documenting some beautiful  birds that started coming to The Lair about a year ago. They are Lesser Goldfinches, Black Backed Race. We are on the eastern edge of their habitat and had never seen them until a spectacular male came to our feeder last year. Gradually they have increased in number and they show up all year round, which surprises me. Perhaps they are extending their habitat eastward. Here are some of the pictures:

males and females       



perching female

The next one is not such a good picture but it gives an idea of the plumage of the male with the black back, white wing bars, and the brilliant yellow breast:


We recently returned from a great vacation with Camilla at Hatteras Island at the Outer Banks beaches of North Carolina. I love the ocean and hadn't been there for about thirty years. We had a house right on the beach.  Not far from our cottage a section of the beach had been cordoned off because a sea turtle had put her nest there, and the second night we were there another sea turtle put another nest a bit further down the beach from where we were staying. The parks and wildlife people patrol the beaches early in the morning looking for the nests and block them off so the nests will not be disturbed. 

Another treat for me was sketching with Camilla for the first time. It meant a lot to me to share our mutual love of painting by doing quick sketches together from our deck. Here are some of mine. They are rough, but I think they catch the feeling of the place. The first is a sketch I did the second day and it shows our access to the the water and the beach:


Below are some quick sketches of people at the beach also done from our deck. I still am too self conscious about sketching people to do it on the beach, although I did dare do one there and of course, no one paid the least attention.


man reading


One day a it clouded over and a cool front came in and I did a quick sketch to show the rougher surf. From our deck we could see a ridge below which the wet sand and the breakers occur, so there is a drop-off from that vantage point and the entire beach can't be seen. Using very rough hand-made paper in my travel journal, I limited my sketch to the rougher surf and tried to catch the stormy ambiance of the day (the weather was lovely most days, even this one,  and the coolness stayed until we left the Outer Banks):

rough surf

Living in the Texas Hill Country as I do, I miss the seafood I was accustomed to in Louisiana. On this trip I had soft-shell crab, she crab soup, flounder, crab cakes, steamed shrimp, clams, and prawns galore, king crab and snow crab, but I was disappointed that the blue crabs were out of season. 

We saw beautiful lighthouses: Currituck Lighthouse, Bodie Island Lighthouse, Ocracoke Lighthouse, and the famous and lovely Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The latter has a special aura about it and recently there was a show on PBS showing the process of moving the it further inward a few years ago to preserve it from the erosion of the sea at it's former location. I shot pictures of the latter three and will show some of them in a later entry.

I must tell you about Pete. We went on a sunset dolphin cruise and saw a pod of about fifteen dolphins and they entertained us for about an hour. Two of the cows had calves with them, one of them fairly small. Pete worked on the beautiful boat, "Miss Hatteras" that  we went out on and his features and the way he dressed made me want to paint him. I had to settle for some rather bad photos (I was using disposable cameras) and here is Pete, shown with his permission:


We chatted a bit and he was quite interesting. He is an artist, and is trained in photography, but has also been painting since he was a child and he has a shop where he makes jewelry and metal sculptures. He told us wonderful stories. He said that when the dolphin cows are calving, the babies do not breathe on their own automatically and the cow immediately dives down sharply to break the cord and then comes up with her nose under the baby and tosses it high in the air and the impact of it hitting the water causes it to take its first breath. He said in the spring it looks as if the cows are playing by throwing balls in the air but it is actually a life giving process to cause the calves to start breathing.  He also told us about the several types of whales they see in the winter there. To see my digital painting of Pete, using a photo as a reference, also shown with his permission, click here.

The highlight of the trip for Farris and Camilla came on Farris' birthday that occurred while we were at the beach. He decided to celebrate it by going parasailing! He went up 1000 feet and Camilla, not to be outdone, went up1250 feet. Being the only sensible member of the family present, I stayed in the boat and took pictures. Here is Farris as he is beginning to ascend:

farris parasailing
Farris Parasails on His Birthday

They could choose whether they wanted to get wet or not and Farris elected to stay dry while Camilla elected to get wet. Here she is being dunked:

camilla parasailing
Camilla Being Dunked

We saw lots of brown pelicans, various gulls, some of which hitched a ride on the ferry to Ocracoke Island, terns, and a first for us, a Ruddy Turnstone, sanderlings  and many sandpipers. One sandpiper had only one leg and he was there each day, running just as fast on his one leg as the others did on their two, darting away from the oncoming surf.

As you can tell, many, many things are of interest at this marvelous playground.

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Last revised: November 26, 2010

Copyright 2001-2010 Rheba Kramer Mitchell. All rights reserved.